Contract Interpretation

As reported by the New Jersey Law Journal, the Appellate Division recently issued an opinion in the case Policemen’s Benevolent Association v. Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders, which addressed a challenge to a labor arbitration decision revolving around “bonus vacation days.” In the case, the Union appealed from an Order which dismissed

As reported in the North Jersey News Publication, The Daily Record, Morris County Sheriff Edward V. Rochford has formally been advised by the freeholders and county administrator that a labor contract he privately negotiated with the Morris County Sheriff’s Officer’s union that provides a 20 percent (20%) increase in salaries over three years —

As reported in NJ.Com, the New Jersey League of Municipalities stopped short of taking an official position on Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed pension reforms but stated the proposed changes could disenfranchise workers and trigger a mass exodus of local workers.  Executive Director Bill Dressel shared the league’s concerns in a letter to the governor

As reported on NJ.Com, The State of New Jersey argued before a State Superior Court Judge today that Governor Chris Christie cannot be forced to make full pension payments because the 2011 law committing him to fully fund the state system in exchange for union concessions was unconstitutional.

Interrupting the assistant attorney general, Superior Court

It has been quite a while since we have provided our readers with information related to the legal issues surrounding New Jersey  Public Safety Officers.  With that being said, we believe it is now very important to provide an overview or a “re-cap” of the New Jersey 2% Salary Cap under the Current Interest Arbitration

 A recent editorial published on NJ.Com calls for Assembly Speaker, Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson County) to renew the two percent (2%) salary cap on interest arbitration awards for law enforcement officers and firefighters that is set to expire on April 1, 2014.

 
The editorial stated that the 2% cap had to be put in place

On July 2, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit decided United Steel v. E.I. Dupont de Nemours and Company, No. 08-1911. In two consolidated cases, Plaintiffs are unions who were seeking to compel Defendants, employers of the unions’ members, to arbitrate Plaintiffs’ grievances about unilateral changes the Defendants

On June 23, 2009, the Appellate Division decided New Jersey Transit Corporation v. P.B.A. Local 304, Docket No.: A-3341-07T3. In the case, PBA Local 304 (“PBA”) appealed from an order of the Chancery Division, General Equity Part, overturning an arbitration award that declared that New Jersey Transit (“NJT”) police officers who are transferred involuntarily by the Chief of Police are entitled to additional pay for travel time. The court held that the arbitrator’s decision violated public policy because it restricted the chief’s authority to reassign officers, thereby limiting his ability to enhance operational awareness and public safety.

This matter concerned the arbitrator’s interpretation of Article XXIII, Section 6 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The article provides in relevant part:

(a) A temporary position may, at the discretion of the Chief of Police, be assigned to an officer for a period not to exceed 30 calendar days.

(b) After a 30 calendar day period or less, the assigned officer will then be reassigned to his original position, and a second officer may then be assigned, then the third, etc.

On March 1, 2005, the NJT Chief of Police issued orders temporarily assigning two police officers to each other’s regular assignments for a period of twenty-eight calendar days. Specifically, Officer Trumble was transferred from his position in Hoboken, and assigned to Officer Sepe’s position in Newark, while Officer Sepe was assigned to Officer Trumble’s Hoboken position. The assignment orders were effective from March 5, 2005 until April 1, 2005.

On March 22, 2005, the PBA filed a grievance, alleging that the assignments constituted an “involuntary tour swap,” because the affected orders were required to change their bid work location (regular assignment) and to work each other’s bid position. On May 9, 2006, the matter was submitted to arbitration. The parties framed the issue thusly: “Was the effectuation of personnel orders P 05-047 and/or P 05-048 in violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement?”

At arbitration, the PBA argued that the assignments are limited under the Article to positions that are open or vacant, and not to those positions that are already filled by officers who had been awarded those positions. NJT argued that, except for certain time limitations, the Article does not limit the Chief’s discretionary authority to assign temporary positions.


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